After losing eight seniors last year, no one expected the Sacred Heart Prep girls’ volleyball team to be much of a contender this season.
However, after finishing league play with a record of 8-2 and taking the Central Coast Section Division IV
title, they have made it back to the state finals for the first time since 1998. Now, they have one goal in mind. That is showing everyone that this surprise season was no fluke.
The Gators will get that chance on Saturday at noon at the San Jose State Event Center against Southern California power La Jolla Country Day, the 13th ranked team in the nation according to Maxpreps.com.
SHP coach Damien Hardy has been able to make sure his team is ready to play all season. Now, he has a daunting task ahead of him. Getting his team ready to face an opponent that he knows virtually nothing about.
“I haven’t seen much video of La Jolla,” Hardy said. “However, from what I hear, they are a very strong squad. You have to be to reach this point.”
La Jolla enters the game boasting a 32-3 record and has dropped only 13 sets over the course of the season.
Two players the Gators will need to prepare for are Chloe Mathis, who has 894 assists on the season, and Maggie Whintey, who has 182 digs on the year.
Sacred Heart Prep enters the championship match coming off of an incredible comeback victory against Notre Dame (Belmont) after being down 2-0.
After the victory in the Northern California championship on Tuesday, Hardy awarded the team with a couple of light practices in the following days, but he is quickly turning his focus preparing for the Torreys on Saturday.
In order for the Gators to be successful, they are going to need their top two players to be on point.
Junior captain Sarah Dashbach and sophomore Sonia Abuel-Saud have led the Gators all year with their consistent play and nonstop effort.
“In order for us to pull off the upset this weekend, we will really need Sarah and Sonia to step up,” Hardy said. “If we get consistent play from them, and our centers, then I feel we have a very good chance to be successful.”
At this point in the season, Hardy is already extremely satisfied with his team’s play, and whether victorious or not this weekend, he will have nothing to frown about.
“If you were telling me after losing eight seniors last season that we would make the state finals this year, I would not have believed you,” Hardy said. “After how hard my team has fought, and after all we have accomplished this year, at this point I feel we are playing with house money, and win or lose this weekend, I will be extremely content.”
WHAT: CIF Division IV State Volleyball Championship
WHO: Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) vs. La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla)
WHEN: Saturday, noon
WHERE: The Event Center, San Jose State
In a back-and-forth battle, Serra eventually ran out of steam against a quick and big Franklin of Elk Grove team in a 57-54 loss in the first round of the Northern California bracket of the CIF Division I boys’ basketball tournament.